I was sent to Anchor Home for Boys when I was sixteen, in 1998-99. While I was there, I experienced being tortured and beaten by the staff and the other children and young adults who were encouraged to participate in this form of violence by the staff. Like many others who come to one of these homes, I was defiant to their rules. I tried to run away. I made it about a half a mile through the cotton fields before I got stuck in some mud. I was found about an hour later, and then severely beaten. My ribs hurt for months after Brother Wiley kicked at them a few times. I soon learned that if I wanted to stop the pain and harm that was constantly befalling me I would have to play their game. (At the moment in my life it felt like a survival decision. it’s still does now, but it comes with a lot of guilt.) So I converted. I was tired of the all night P.T. sessions, the unconverted like myself, were so often subject to, for no reason other than, ” he’s not saved”. I saw another boy figure it out before me. One didn’t actually have to believe, one just had to play their game. And when I did it was like night and day. I was no longer kneeling on rice for hours every night or subject to what I now know as water-boarding, and just general over reactive abuse slowed down for me.
However, my life only got worse. Now that I was part of the flock, I had to keep up certain appearances, and with the very strict environment it can be easy to slip up. Never let them believe you fooled them. Never let them know you really not theirs. (That’s what I thought. but you don’t have to be a true believer to really be theirs, it’s enough just to play their game.) I had witnessed other kids ganging up on one boy, while the staff clearly was overseeing a sort of punishment by peers. On one occasion a new boy who was overweight had trouble running his laps (Punishment). Explaining to the staff that he was tired and clearly he was exhausted. The staff encouraged the other boys to tie his wrists to a golf cart; they then proceeded to drag him, crying, for over a mile.
This was the kind of behavior they wanted from us, Blind Obedience. I was made a kind of disciplinary figure for the other boys. Part of me liked it too. The feeling of superiority over another, the feeling that as long as I was giving It, I would not receive it, and it felt a kind of safe. But, at the cost of my soul, not that I believe in souls personally, but I have always believed in certain morals and conscience, and that I went against them out of fear. I’m not making excuses for myself. I knew then what I know now, that the things I was told to do and the things that were left up to me to decide for the other boys was wrong and I’ve lived every day since in regret, and remorse. . . for Playing there game. If I could go back in time I would spit in all there faces, they could beat me to death and I would not care, for I would die a freer man than I am now.